Friday, February 15, 2008

Time to vote

(Letter to the editor, published 17-Feb-2008, Appleton Post-Crescent)

Presidential primaries are the only elections where you've really got a choice. Last fall, with 16 candidates, I knew that the candidate I preferred was someone I could vote for without holding my nose.

When my guy was asked a question during the TV debates, he answered it immediately and then went on to explain his answer. But highly trained TV interviewers pounce on a "Yes" or "No" answer. They had to have been pleased to be able to interrupt the explanation -- he gave his answer, didn't he? -- so that one of the "star" candidates could throw in his two cents. When thrown into the piranha tank of a televised debate, it's best to dissemble, hedge, demur, equivocate, back-and-fill, joke, divert, and dance rather than answer a question forthrightly.

TV producers aren't interested in substance. Their principal driving motivation is to look like king-makers, to be the ones that were most accurate in forecasting the winner. That translates into ratings. Nothing else matters to them.

That's the political reality: a stupefying concentration of attention on winning. What were campaigns like before thousands of pundits tried to make their prognostications heard above the din? If all the primaries were held on a single day, there'd be no drama, no fake pathos, no nail-biting, no tension. What self-respecting TV executive wants that?

It's a bit disheartening, though, to see the field melt away to five or six candidates before primary day. It looks like they held an election and nobody came.

Even though my guy hasn't won many delegates, he stayed in. I can still vote for someone whose record doesn't disguise his positions, who speaks plainly, doesn't pander, and has the least number of skeletons in his closet. I hope you vote for him, too: Ron Paul.

Steve Erbach

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